Friday, 10 February 2012

Private Celebrity Lives Of Legitimate Interest To The Media

ECHR BuildingAS THE LEVESON ENQUIRY reaches the end of its second stage, I find that one of my serious reservations about its possible findings has been relieved from a most unexpected quarter.

Like most journalists I have been appalled by recent court rulings that have enabled celebrities, politicians, and rich business people to serve injunctions on the press and prevent the publication of photographs and articles by using Human Rights legislation to prevent their seedy secrets from ever reaching the light of day; but, this week, in landmark judgments involving a cocaine-possessing German TV actor and Princess Caroline of Monaco, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the private lives of celebrities are of legitimate interest to the media.

At last, decisions taken by the Strasbourg court establish significant legal precedents for privacy cases in British courts – tipping the balance back towards freedom of expression, and quashing Leveson’s suggestion of establishing any form of Publicity Opt-Out List that journalists would need to consult before putting pen to paper regarding articles concerning the rich and famous.

Perhaps we can now look forward to another long awaited decision regarding just how many times journalists can ask the same question, of the same person, without getting an answer – before being charged with harassment?..

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